ORR Releases Report on Careers in Outdoor Recreation

The Outdoors Drives Jobs: Career Paths in the Outdoor Recreation Economy

Growing Workforce is the Backbone of Thriving Industry

Today on a virtual webinar the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) released a new report on career opportunities in the $689 billion outdoor recreation sector, to help industry leaders, policymakers and prospective workers understand how these jobs provide outstanding quality of life, support conservation goals, strengthen local economies, and connect Americans to the great outdoors.

“The backbone of this thriving sector is a growing workforce that meets the dynamic needs of today’s fast-paced industry,” said Jessica Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “Right now, there are so many high -quality jobs that exist across the outdoor recreation industry for professionals with a variety of skill sets that provide outstanding lifelong careers, and we want to highlight those opportunities in this report.”

The report was released in partnership with the Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy. “While professionals from across the country are carving out roles in this exciting industry that supports a conservation ethos and enables high quality of life, we also know that there is a growing skills gap in the outdoor workforce and that there are thousands of open jobs (for example, 31,000 in the marine industry alone) available for people seeking life-long and meaningful careers,” added Lee Davis, Executive Director of the Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE).

A few highlights from the report:

Deep and Diverse Jobs: The report illustrates the breadth, depth, and diversity of the outdoor recreation industry workforce, which totals over 4.3 million good jobs that help develop economies, increase rural prosperity, improve public health outcomes and quality of life, and promote environmental stewardship and conservation. The report organizes outdoor jobs into three categories: “Technical Specialists,” “Participant -Facing,” and “Integrators” to help the public understand the types of career paths for people with and without higher academic degrees.

High-Quality Career Opportunities: The report also seeks to clear up misconceptions among the public and policymakers about the types and diversity of jobs in the outdoor recreation economy.

As a newly organized sector including well over 110,000 small, medium and Fortune 500 businesses across America, many professional and technical careers in the outdoors are unseen or unknown by the public. Most participants in outdoor recreation activities only interact with consumer-facing employees, including retail and hospitality staff members, guides and outfitters, parking and campground attendants, and concessionaires who sell food, beverages, supplies, and souvenirs at recreation hot -spots. While these important jobs certainly make up a segment of jobs in the outdoor recreation economy, there are also millions of professional and technical, full-time positions across the sector that are lesser known and provide competitive wages and meaningful careers. Today’s report helps illustrate the breadth of these roles.

Outdoor Recreation is a Growth Industry: Multiple factors have converged to drive the significant growth in the outdoor recreation industry in recent years, with the corresponding increase in the number of jobs throughout the country, including in rural areas which are transitional from extractive and other industries and focusing more on recreation.

Finally, today ORR also debuted a new Career Path module to help meet real people in the outdoor recreation industry. This module is a digital resource which features professionals across the outdoor recreation industry telling their stories about how they arrived in their current roles, describing what they appreciate about their work/life balance, and sharing advice to prospective workers who want to emulate their journey.